Cheat Sheet: This is how to approach the different interview stages

By May 16, 2024For Talent

You’ve filled out the application form, uploaded your best-ever CV, tailored your cover letter, and at last, the email you’ve been waiting for comes through. You’re through to the interview stages. Woohoo!

While this invite can feel like a big relief – or at least some validation – this is usually just the beginning of a multi-stage process, especially if you’re seeking a much-coveted job in tech. 

trio shaking hands at interview

Each stage presents its own set of challenges and expectations, here’s how to ace each and every one. 

1. The Screening Interview

This is often a call or video call with a hiring manager or recruiter. If it’s the latter, things can be more casual, but remember regardless of who’s on the other line, this is your chance to make a positive first impression. 

This is often a bit of a box ticking exercise, so keep your responses concise and focused on your relevant experience and skills. Be sure to convey enthusiasm for the role and the company, and indicate why you’d be a good fit. But keep it light. This is not the time to hammer home results achieved, and career successes, save these for later. 

2. The First Interview

Most organisations conduct the first interview via video these days. Some even automate this stage by prompting questions which appear to the applicants who then must record video answers. These are later reviewed by the company. 

Whether it’s prompts or an actual person, prepare for this stage by ensuring the place where you’re conducting the interview is tidy and well-lit. A plain-enough background with a houseplant or two to soften the edges is perfect. 

Prepare answers to the well-worn interview questions that come up time and time again: Tell me about yourself. What interests you about this role? Why would we hire you? What is your greatest professional weakness? What are your salary expectations? You know the drill. 

3. The Technical/Skills Assessment

Depending on the role you’re going for, you may face a technical or skills challenge. Sometimes this is even before the first interview, especially if the hiring managers are trying to wade through a high volume of candidates. 

In advance, review the job description, brush up on the relevant skills, and practice coding problems, if relevant. Don’t forget to explain your thought process throughout – it’s not just about getting the right answer, but how you approach the problem that matters. Most employers are looking for critical thinking and problem solving, so the more you demonstrate this the better.

4. The Second Interview

The second interview is often in-person if possible, and digs a lot deeper than the first. Though a hiring manager will likely lead this behavioural-style interview, this stage usually involves your future manager and other senior stakeholders, depending on the seniority of the role. 

For this interview, prepare to delve into your previous work and projects. Show, don’t tell. Employers want to see how you’ve handled situations and issues in the past, so be ready with specific examples that show your skills and abilities. 

Focus on the critical thinking that informed your actions, the resulting outcomes, and the learnings you brought forward. This is your time to get into the nitty gritty.

5. The Third Interview

If competition between the remaining candidates is fierce, there may be a third interview. This can involve being brought into the workplace, having a peer in the meeting itself, and even meeting the team. 

Thankfully, this round isn’t always necessary but it does give employers another opportunity to suss out how you’d fit within the organisation. 

If you’re through to a third interview, put your friendliest face on, and ask thoughtful questions about the company culture, vision, and how the values are lived day to day.

6. The Negotiation

You’ve impressed them in the interviews and they want you, usually at the lowest price possible. You want the highest salary possible. And so, the dance begins.

You will be expected to negotiate so do your research. Know your value and practise the conversation with a friend or family member. 

But also remember, this is a partnership, push for what you deserve but don’t be a Rottweiler either. You’re going to be working with these people soon. 

Looking for more career advice?

Check out our Cheat Sheet series which includes advice on what to never say in an interview and the things you should never do when you leave a company.

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Author Amanda Kavanagh

More posts by Amanda Kavanagh

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